Powerful Kiwi sprinter Eddie Dawkins produced a superb silver medal performance to light up the Vantage New Zealand team on the penultimate day of the opening UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Paris.

Dawkins won silver in the men’s keirin after some commanding form in the lead-up, and being forced to come around four riders on the final bend to finish 0.07s behind Japanese star Yuta Wakimoto in the final.

The 29-year-old Dawkins has an affinity with the Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines track after winning a silver medal at the world championships there in 2015, and repeating that at the London Worlds the following year.

The whole-hearted Dawkins has re-found his zest on and off the track under new sprint coach René Wolff, showing some outstanding form in Paris and taking a lead in the team culture.

While the team sprint suffered from a mishap in qualifying, Dawkins was the fastest third-wheel rider and the only rider under 13 seconds for the final lap.

Today he pushed around the field to trail the experienced Theo Bos home by just 0.1s in the first round of the keirin, and then rounded up the leaders impressively to win his semifinal. Dawkins was forced to the back after drawing the outside in the final, and had to push passed four riders on the final bend to chase down Wakimoto in the final. The big Kiwi passed all and came within 0.07s of Japan’s leading Keirin league rider in an impressive effort.

Eddie Dawkins on his way to keirin silver, photo Guy Swarbrick

“In talking with our coach, we didn’t have a pre-determined tactic. Anything can happen in such a short amount of time, so Rene said that today was about picking a decision while I was out there and sticking with that decision to the end. It worked out,” said Dawkins.

He said he was in good spirits after strong performances within the squad.  “I had a really good feeling. All the riders and staff have a really positive outlook and it was good to do something after yesterday’s mishap in the team sprint but also drawing some motivation from the girls’ TP with the New Zealand record. It made today that much easier on my legs.

“In the final it was a long sprint with heaps of changes for the lead. There was four going around the final corner pushing for the lead and I was the one pushed to the outside and had the furthest distance but came home strongly.”

Dawkins said he will play support for teammates Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster who compete in the individual sprint, but is looking forward to heading across the Atlantic for the second World Cup in Canada next weekend.

Earlier 20-year-old Emma Cumming produced two personal best performances in the individual sprint.  Compatriot Natasha Hansen was eighth fastest in qualifying in 10.776s but was edged out in her first round match in a close sprint finish.

Emma Cumming was 12th fastest after qualifying, photo Guy Swarbrick

Cumming was 12th fastest in qualifying in 10.895s, which was a personal best and first time under 11 seconds in a World Cup.

The Southlander upset current European sprint champion and two-time world champion Simona Krupeckaite (LTU) in the first-round match race after making a superb move on the inside that belied her years. Cumming made a strong late run at the line in the 1/8 finals but came up just 0.01s short in the sprint finish against rising German star Lea Sophie Friedrich.

In other performances today, Nick Kergozou finished 17th in the four-event men’s omnium which was dominated by Spain’s Albert Torres Barcelo who put three laps on the field in the deciding points race.

Earlier Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond were seventh in the women’s Madison won by Denmark over Great Britain, with the two nations scoring points in seven of the eighth sprints, with no-one managing to get any bonus points for lapping the field.

The competition finishes on Monday (NZ time) with the men’s individual sprint (Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell), women’s keirin (Natasha Hansen), men’s Madison (Campbell Stewart, Harry Waine), women’s scratch race (Holly Edmondston) and women’s omnium (Racquel Sheath).

. . . and then produced a stunning upset in round 1, photo Guy Swarbrick

Results:

Keirin, round 1, heat 2: Theo Bos (NED) 1, Eddie Dawkins (NZL) 2. Semifinal, heat 1: Dawkins 1, Krzyszof Maksel (POL) 2, Yuta Wakimoto (JPN) 3. Heat 2: Jack Carlin (GBR) 1, Bos 2, Hersony Canelon (VEN) 3. Final: Wakimoto 1, Dawkins 2, Maksel 3.

Women Sprint, qualifying: Stephanie Morton (AUS) 10.516, 1; Wai Sze Lee (HKG) 10.600, 2; Mathilde Gros (FRA) 10.609, 3. Also: Natasha Hansen (NZL) 10.776, 8; Emma Cumming (NZL) 10.895, 12.  Round 1: Ios Urszula (POL) bt Hansen, Cumming bt Simona Krupeckaite (LTU). Round 2: Lea Friedrich (GER) bt Cumming. Semifinal: Morton be Daria Shmeleva (RUS) 2-1, Lee bt Gros 2-0. Final:

Men omnium, scratch race (10km): Jan van Schip (NED) 1, Albert Torres Barcelo (ESP) 2, Raman Tsishkou (BLR) 3. Also: Nick Kergozou (NZL) 12). Tempo (10km): Christos Volkakis (GRE) 45 points, 1; Torres Barcelo 43, 2; Robbe Ghys (BEL) 41, 3. Also: Kergozou 20, 14. Elimination race: Oliver Wood (GBR) 1, Sergei Rostovtsev (RUS) 2, Simone Consonni (ITA) 3. Also: Kergozou 20. Points race (20km): Torres Barcelo 80 points, 1; Wood 50, 2; Benjamin Thomas (FRA) 48, 3. Also: Kergozou 2, 17. Overall: Torres Barcelo 174 points, 1; Wood 142, 2; Thomas 138, 3. Also: Kergozou 36, 17.

Women Madison (20km) Denmark 23 points, 1; Great Britain 23, 2; Australia 19, 3. Also New Zealand (Racquel Sheath, Michaela Drummond) 3, 8.

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